1941 Egg Bowl – Winner Take All


Before Arkansas’ 30-0 win over Ole Miss ended the possibility, the 2014 Egg Bowl had the potential to send the winner to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta on December 6. This raises the question – has there ever been an  Egg Bowl in which the winner, regardless of who it was, would claim a divisional or SEC title?

Quarterback Jennings Moates scored the only points in State’s 6-0 win over Ole Miss in 1941 that secured the SEC championship.

The answer to that question is yes.  It happened in 1941 and that game is the subject of this week’s look back into MSU football history. The Mississippi State Maroons were coming off a 10-0-1 season in which they won the Orange Bowl, but missed out on sharing an SEC title with Tennessee due to a tie with Auburn.  The ’41 squad entered the game with a 6-1-1 record that included a 0-0 tie with LSU and a 16-0 non-conference loss to Duquesne.

Likewise, Ole Miss was 6-1-1, with a 16-6 non-conference loss to Georgetown and a 14-14 tie with Georgia as the only blemishes to an otherwise perfect season.  The Rebels were favored in the game, and representatives from the Orange Bowl were on hand in Oxford to extend an invitation to Ole Miss – provided they could defeat their rivals from Starkville.

A crowd of 28,000 was present at Hemingway Stadium on the last Saturday afternoon in November.  It was a game dominated by the defenses.  Both teams had early drives ended by turnovers. The Maroons suffered an early fumble that killed a promising drive, but Lamar Blount made an interception at the Mississippi State 11 yard line to stop a deep Rebel drive.

The game’s only score occurred late in the second quarter. Taking over at their own 31 following a punt,  the Maroons drove 69 yards in just three plays. Collins Wohner completed a 30 yard pass to Kermit Davis that took the ball to the Ole Miss 39. After a one yard run by Billy “Spook” Murphy, the stage was set for the scoring play.

In those days, Mississippi State ran a version of the Tennessee offense, sometimes known as the single wing.  The fullback or tailback took the direct snap from the center.  The quarterback was mostly used as a blocking back.  State lined up and faked the snap and run to Murphy the tailback, but the ball was actually snapped directly to quarterback Jennings Moates, who slipped off left tackle and ran 38 yards untouched for a touchdown.  The extra point was missed and State led 6-0.

In the fourth quarter, the Rebels appeared to have tied the score when Junie Hovious completed a pass to Ray Terrell near midfield, and Terrell took it in for an apparent touchdown.  But the officials ruled that Terrell had stepped out of bounds at the Maroon 47 yard line.  Later in the drive, with time running out, State’s Blondy Black intercepted a pass at the twelve yard line to end the drive and secure the win for the Maroons.

For the 1941 SEC champions, the season would not end until the following week, when they traveled to the West Coast and defeated the University of San Francisco 26-13 at Kezar Stadium to complete an 8-1-1 campaign.  The next day, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and America was at war.  Many players from the 1938-1942 Mississippi State teams fought in World War II.  One player, Harvey “Boots” Johnson, a star on the 1940 team, was killed in a bombing raid over Japan. Buddy Elrod, State’s first All-American, was imprisoned in a German Stalag prison camp. Football was played in 1942, but Mississippi State did not field a team in 1943 due to the war.